Kelvin Watson receives the Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/05/2016


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer



CHICAGO — Kelvin Watson, chief innovation and technology officer, Queens Library (Queens, New York), has been named the 2016 inaugural winner of ALA’s Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession. The award, supported by the DiMattia Family, recognizes a public librarian who demonstrates leadership in anticipating emerging trends in services, products and technologies that will enhance the library’s position in its community. The winner also participates in the life of the community using membership in and volunteer service through a broad range of community organizations and projects.

Watson is being honored for his many accomplishments in bringing new services and ideas to both the library and the community.  He leads the team that distributes and manages 2,500 mobile hot spots and 5,000 tablet devices. He has streamlined and simplified access to the Queens Library collections and services using innovative techniques creating digital equality in Queens.  He directed and led the strategy and planned the execution for the Queens Virtual Library allowing for a seamless process for access, discovery and delivery of e-content.  Active in the library profession, he also serves as a mentor to many of the Queens Public Library employees.

Under his leadership, he developed a “Mobile Discovery and Delivery” platform for tablets designed to make it easy for patrons to find and access e-content from multiple vendors using a single interface. His work emphasizes the benefits to and convenience for library patrons.

He led the Digital Assets Management Division to integrate and coordinate the digitization of manuscripts, documents and images. 

After the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a corporate donation of tablets enabled Queens Library to continue offering crucial services in storm-ravaged communities while rebuilding branches. Patrons now have access to a robust Mobile Tablet lending program. These tablets provide a guided experience, featuring pre-loaded content with a simple interface that is easy for beginners to navigate. His leadership has seen the upgrade of Wi-Fi at all the library locations.

He is part of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to address the digital divide and help people understand how to use technology and realize how impactful these tools can be for their lives.

Additionally, he supervised the library’s first Hip Hop Initiative, an effort to archive and preserve Queens’ musical heritage while connecting with young people through engaging and enriching programs.

Watson is a frequent speaker at library conferences.  He is the current president of the Black Caucus of ALA.  He serves on the New York State Regents Advisory Council on Libraries and the Metropolitan New York Library Council Board.  He is a lecturer at Queens College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

The annual award, consisting of $5,000 and a citation of achievement, will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida in June. 

Members of the 2016 Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession Award committee are: Chair Andrea R. Lapsley, Colorado State University, Colorado.; Eva Davis, Canton Public Library,Michigan; Andrew P. Jackson, Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center, Queens Public Library, New York;  Brian J. Kenney, White Plains Public Library, New York; and Eric D. Suess, Marshall Public Library, Idaho.

More information about the Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession including how to submit a nomination is available on the ALA website (